- John R. Lynch, former slave and member of the U.S. Congress, speaking in support of the Civil Rights Act of 1875
John R. Lynch was born a slave on September 10, 1847 in Concordia Parish, Louisiana. His father was an immigrant from Ireland and his mother was a slave. He remained in slavery until freed by Union forces in 1863 during the Civil War. Self-educated by secretly eavesdropping on class lessons at a white school, Lynch learned the photography trade, became a Justice of the Peace, and then was elected to the Mississippi legislature when he was only 26 years old. He will subsequently be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1873. His greatest effort was in the long debate in support of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 that banned discrimination in public accommodations. Although, the law was found to be unconstitutional, parts of the act were incorporated into the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (some 90 years later) and the Fair Housing Act.
plez sez: it remains a mystery to me why so much of the rich history of America is relegated to the far reaches of our collective memories. to many, the Civil Rights Movement began in 1963, with King's "I Have a Dream Speech" and ended in 1968 with his assassination. who would know that the quest for freedom and true equality stretches back to the last shots of the Civil War, and the voices for equality from long ago echo to this day?
the history of Black people in America IS the history of America! John R. Lynch was born 160 years ago today.